Angel Bravo (#atozchallenge)

Angel Bravo played for the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres in his brief Major League career. He was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, the same city that produced Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio, and was signed as a free agent in 1963.

Angel was called up by the White Sox from Tucson (their class AAA farm club in the Pacific Coast League) on June 6, 1969. I watched his first game on WFLD (channel 32 in Chicago). He started in center field, batted eighth and went 2 for 3 in that game. Jack Drees, the play-by-play man for the White Sox, never bothered to mention that Angel was making his debut.

Angel was sent back down to Tucson and recalled a couple more times, spending September with the White Sox, who by that time were battling with the Seattle Pilots for last place in the American League West. He ended the season with a .289 average, one home run and three runs batted in.

Over the winter, he was traded to Cincinnati. He was up and down with the Reds, but had a decent year (.277, no home runs, three RBI in 65 games) in 1970. He was traded to San Diego in 1971 and spent most of the year and all of 1972 in the minors. From 1973 to 1976, he played in the Mexican League, then went back to Venezuela. Currently, he’s a hitting coach for the La Guaira Tiburones (Sharks) of the Venezuelan League.

Angel had the distinction of playing for the Indianapolis Indians twice, the first time when it was the White Sox’ Class AAA farm club, the second time when it was the Reds’ AAA farm club. In the same way, he played for the Hawaiian Islanders twice, once in the White Sox organization and again in the Padres organization.

It’s a shame he didn’t play in the majors longer. His is one of the great names in Major League Baseball history.

(picture courtesy baseball-almanac.com)

(Off topic: I figured out that if I include the hashtag #atozchallenge in the post title, it makes it easier to find the posts on Twitter.)

On Latin and Greek

“Alphabet” comes from the names of the first two Greek letters, alpha and beta. But you knew that.

Rita Mae Brown, in her book Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind Of Writers’ Manual, suggests that in order to be a writer, one must study Latin. With all due respect to a highly successful bestselling author, I had three years of Latin and two years of Greek in high school, and it’s a load of crap. The only people who have any use for it are either celibate or dead. Or, in the words of the poet:

Latin is a language,
Dead as Dead Can Be,
First it Killed the Romans,
Now It’s Killing Me.

All are dead who spoke it.
All are dead who wrote it.
All are dead who learned it,
Lucky dead, they’ve earned it.

Nevertheless, I was ordered to take Latin in high school by my mother, using the same logic as Ms. Brown in her book. She told me that I would learn English better, because so much English vocabulary was derived from Latin.

I thought I was being smart when, at the end of sophomore year, I told my mother that I would be taking Greek in junior and senior year. She grumbled, but consented. The following year went well, although I got a lot of static from the college counselors (and my mother) reminding me that I really should have stayed with Latin for four years if I wanted to avoid having to take more of it in college. I guess I should have listened to them. I took both Latin and Greek in senior year, did well enough to pass, and ended up taking a quarter of Latin anyway.

The fisrt thing we had to learn, of course, was the alphabet:

This came in useful when my brother decided to join the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and needed to learn it. It was also useful when, as a math major, I had to use many of the letters in formulae (the nominative plural of formula, a first-declension noun, not that anyone needs to know that). It went downhill after that. I passed both, barely.

The thing that bothers me the most is that I can walk into a room to do something and forget why I went in there, I can forget things that were just told to me, and yet you could wake me at 3 AM and I could recite the Greek alphabet and decline the word “nauta” (sailor). If I could clean all the old junk out of my head, there’d be plenty of room for new stuff. Oh, well.

My “A to Z Challenge” Theme

Since it’s coming next week, I wanted to put this out there so that everyone can “ooh” and “ahh”, or whatever you do.

I’m sure that everyone has had an occasion where they’ve had to spell something for a person on the phone. If you have, you know that certain letters sound similar, like “M” and “N”, “P” and “T”, “F” and “S”, and “B” and “D”. If you’re speaking over a bad connection, it’s easy for the person at the other end to get the letters wrong. It’s not a big deal if you’re spelling your name and the person gets the letters wrong. It IS a big deal if you’re a pilot talking with an air traffic controller, and he tells you to land on runway 2M and you heard it as runway 2N. That could end up a disaster.

There are ways to avoid this. Probably the most common is to use a word that starts with that letter instead of the letter itself. My third grade nun, Mother Juanita, helped us learn to spell “arithmetic” by saying the sentence “A rat in Tom’s house might eat Tom’s ice cream.” (The dirty rat!) Over the years, spelling alphabets evolved that used standard words for each letter. The able-baker-charlie alphabet that the British Army developed was one such spelling alphabet. The most commonly used today is the one used by NATO:

alpha
bravo
charlie
delta
echo
foxtrot
golf
hotel
india
juliet
kilo
lima
mike
november
oscar
papa
quebec
romeo
sierra
tango
uniform
victor
whiskey
xray
yankee
zulu

My last name would then be spelled “hotel oscar lima tango oscar november”.

Anyway, that’s my theme for this year: to go through the NATO spelling alphabet and use the word associated with the letter of the day as the basis for a post. I will be as original as possible, meaning that I won’t talk about Shakespeare on the days dedicated to Romeo and Juliet.

Oh, this is going to be fun….

Miscellaneous thoughts for a Friday night

First, a big “THANK YOU!” to Jenny Hansen for this blog post. WordPress is not the most user-friendly platform (although I like it better than Blogger), and Jenny managed to simplify things considerably. Like I said, she’s my hero.

As if the Blogging from A to Z Challenge isn’t enough, I’ve also decided to tackle A Round of Words in 80 Days, better known to those in the know as #ROW80, in April. I need something to light a fire under me. The writing hasn’t been going as well as it had been, and given that it wasn’t going that well to start with…well, you get the idea. #ROW80 was part of the reason I started this blog. Like I said, it looks fun and I wanna play.

I’m about to undertake a major project: decrapulating my Documents folder. (Yeah, I’m one of those Mac people.) I’ve had this computer for over five years and Documents has become the junk drawer for electronic receipts, articles that I kept for whatever reason, bits and pieces that I’ve written and put in there, a formal folder for my writing that has become my junk drawer in a junk drawer, and files that applications (e. g. Dragon Dictate and Parallels) have put there. Wish me luck.

Farewell, Lucy

We got Lucy as a kitten about ten years ago. Mary wanted a half-Siamese to replace Sherman, who was all black and didn’t talk so much as squeak. In Lucy, we got the noisy half.

A good thing, too: we had a kitten, Amy (another half-Siamese), who had somehow managed to get trapped next to the dishwasher and couldn’t get out. It was Lucy who raised hell until we went out to see what was wrong. Thanks to her, we managed to get Amy out safely and unharmed.

We also adopted two kittens, Homer and Jethro, from the guy next door, who worked at a scrap yard where there were a lot of feral cats. They trapped, neutered and released the mothers, and took the kittens so they wouldn’t become feral. Anyway, Mary and I had just lost Larry, who was an orange tabby who lived twenty years, just that morning, and before I could stop her, she had picked out the two orange tabbies and said, “I’ll have these!” We brought them into the house and did what we always did when we got a new cat: set them on the floor and let them wander around and meet the others. When we did that, we had the shock of our lives: they were too young to walk.

We took them to the vet, who explained to us that they were about a month old and hadn’t been weaned, which meant that we would have to bottle feed them, then use a dishrag to stimulate their little bowels into going. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do the latter, because Lucy, still technically a kitten herself, took over and cleaned the two of them up and did so until they no longer needed that sort of help.

Recently, as I posted earlier, Lucy hadn’t been doing well. She was hiding and getting skinny and a little weak. The vet had given us medicine to help her, and she did all right for about a week or two. We took her in Tuesday so they could draw blood and give her some fluids, because she looked a bit punk. She slept most of the rest of that day Tuesday and yesterday, and was pretty much out of it both days.

The vet called yesterday, and told us that while her phosphorus level was great, her creatinin (I’m not sure about that; it might be creatine) was sky-high, and to fix it would require hospitalization, more medicine, and us giving her subcutaneous fluids almost every day. Then, maybe she’d live another few months.

Mary and I discussed it, and decided that if the best they could promise was a few months, it wasn’t worth putting her (and ourselves) through the suffering. After discussion, we decided it was time to say goodbye and send her to be with Toby (who she came with) and all of the other cats we’ve lost over the years.

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, she came into the bedroom and it was like having the old Lucy back. In short, she was being a pain in the ass, clawing me when I was trying to sleep, then settling down. She slept with me all night, and I was starting to think that maybe we didn’t have to do it right away. However, when we put her into the cat carrier to eat, she wouldn’t, and was howling as only a Siamese (or the noisy half of one) can, and we knew we were doing the right thing.

Anyway, thanks for listening.